Great American Songs: Through The Years
On this beautiful-sounding, limited-edition CD, drummer/leader Jeff Hamilton proves (once again) that he is not only a master of the American Songbook but an equally gifted arranger and, of course, drummer. Joined by his longtime trio of bassist Christoph Luty and pianist Tamir Hendelman, Hamilton gives a lesson in the beauty of song and the beauty of swing—all with such immaculate attention to detail that you can’t help but be caught up in his trio’s trance.
Though Hamilton plays sticks on a few tracks, including a fiery Latin-toswing “All Or Nothing At All,” it’s his brush work that perpetually amazes. Contrary to popular opinion, it takes greater strength to convincingly perform on brushes than sticks. The lack of natural rebound and lower volume range can cause even the most qualified drummer to soil his tuxedo. But Hamilton unleashes a vast dynamic range with the brushes, executing creative figures with profound detail and clarity coupled to inspired ideas. Only Papa Jo Jones, Roy Haynes, Clayton Cameron and Kenny Washington have attained similar expressiveness.
Produced by Takao Ishizuka and recorded, mixed and mastered by Talley Sherwood, Great American Songs: Through The Years is a jazz gift.
The ex-Monty Alexander drummer here with his long-running trio featuring Petersonite pianist Tamir Hendelman and Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra bassist Christoph Luty the pivot whose lovely arco intro enlivens ‘The More I See You.’
Recorded in a North Hollywood studio in January 2013 the Great American songs in question – great as in “Great American Songbook”, as well, as, simply great – are: ‘Falling In Love With You’; ‘Tenderly’; ‘The More I See You’; ‘It Could Happen To You’; ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’; ‘Thou Swell’; ‘You Took Advantage Of Me’; ‘I Thought About You’; ‘All Or Nothing At All’; and ‘How Long Has This Been Going On.’
If you’re looking for orthodox but still unbuttoned modern mainstream piano jazz – think Oscar Peterson 1961 album The Trio for rough signposting to the sound (that trio caught live around that time above) – with all the important elements in place: timing, swing, a sense of joy and loving respect for the material and traditions of the music, then look no further.
– Stephen Graham
Glory be! Hallelujah! A standards album! CD of the month? Surely all bets are now off!
Whilst I recognize the need of young players to produce original material which, unfortunately (or in some cases fortunately) will never enter other bands’ pads, I do question as to why they think their material is better than that of the Gasbook? Or, come to that, more contemporary composers such as Cohen, King, Mitchell? At the end of the day, a familiar theme is much easier for the jazz newcomer to latch on to. Then, once the head is played, reprised, they are off on solos that the listener can more easily relate to.
Great American Songs is a perfect example. Israeli born pianist Hendelman is the kind of player we once took for granted – Peterson, Powell (Bud, Richie, Mel), Previn – and now are delighted to discover in this wonderful reminder of how it used to be, how it should be (and still is on this disc).
The progressions, the improvisations, the general feel and the arrangements of these 10 classics is as near perfection as I’ve heard in many a long playing life.
The fact that Jeff Hamilton – the most tasteful drummer ever – is leader of the group will, I’m sure, convince any doubters that this may be the finest jazz piano trio disc since the abdication by death of Oscar Peterson.
Luty is featured both pizz and arc – in the latter mode he brings an almost cello-like quality to his bowed bass passages – listen to the opening melody of Someone to Watch Over me.
A tremendous recording – that’s the good news!
The bad news is that this Capri release is a limited edition of just 2,500 copies that are available only from Capri or Amazon (unless you have the version released in 2013 in Japan) so don’t hang about!.
For the record the titles are: Falling in Love With Love; Tenderly; The More I See You; It Could Happen to You; Someone to Watch Over me; Thou Swell; You Took Advantage of me; I Thought About You; All or Nothing at All; How Long Has This Been Going on?
(Review by Lance)